View Full Version : What's the latest in printing technology?
Some time has passed since Epson came up with the widely acclaimed Ultrachome 7600 and 9600 printers. Are these two still the best options for wide format printing? Does someone know if there is a replacement model in the air or if it is still time to buy one? I had followed some discussions on the HP Designjet 130 which uses archival dye inks. Some swear by it, but a friend of mine who I pushed into purchasing one is very disappointed with the clunky paper load, marks of wheels on glossy paper, although he admits that it is a good value for the money. There had been mentions also of third parties archival dye inks for the 7600/9600. Any new experience that you wish to share? Thanks!
Bonjour--------A web site where you might get more responses to your question & responses from commericial pro's (NYC & LA, etc) who are perhaps more attune to your question on a daily basis is thus: www.pdn-pix.com (Photo Distric News--NYC)
I turn to this site on a daily basis to glean information, to be educated on photo stuff & in many cases, I have followed up with a question or two to certain individuals.
I will be interested in answers to your question as well.
By the way, is the Canon Prograf W line worth considering?
Raymond, thanks for the tip! I hope that spring is making it's way to Vail!
The 7600 and 9600 are 3 years old and due for replacement. Nothing has yet been announced by Epson.
This comment is totally irrelevant to your question if you mean : affordable printing methods. What follows is not irrelevant ot the question "the latest in printing technology" but deals with extremely expensive professionnal printing equipement served by full-time skilled technicians and artists of fine art prints ;-)
But seriously as an amateur with a very low production, I'm myslef asking the question : is-it worth to spend money in home equipement or do I prefer to give on special occasions what I think to be some of my best images to a professional printing lab ?
Report on an interesting mixed analog+digital technology for those who love traditional B&W baryt papers.
Last Sunday I attended a friendly LF get-together in Burgondy and after the usual morning session outdoors under the dark cloth and after lunch time, we had the opportunity to meet a professional B&W printer from the parisian lab Imaginoir. www.imaginoir.fr (http://www.imaginoir.fr)
Together with a photographer friend they presented stunning B&W prints from scanned negatives obtained by digital flashing of baryt paper on their Lightjet 5900 machine.
We could compare side-by-side a conventional analog print from a good 6x6 B&W negative and the result of digital-baryt print from a high quality scan on the same paper. The interesting thing is that noise is different in skies between the two methods, the scanned+flashed exhibiting slightly more pronounced grain that the direct optical enlargement. It would have been interesting to add a print from a 22 Mpix silicon sensor, same recorded scene eventually flashed in the same conditions by the same machine. I'm pretty sure that granularity noise in skies would be invisible, however I would be curious to compare rendition of fine meshed objects and actual tonality and edge sharpness.
We could also admire side by side huge baryt-paper prints of 1 to 2 square meters (80cm-127cm/30"-50" wide)made either from a scanned 35 mm neg or from a 4x5" neg. The comments by the printer were that for those kinds of huge prints he gets better results by scanning a 35 mm neg with a top-clas scanner than by direct enlargement with the best conventional opto-mechanical enlarging equipment. Of course the big print of 2 square meters obtained by scan+digital flashing from a 4"x5" was outstanding in terms of fine details and excellent tonality.
So my conclusion as far as B&W is concerned is that I have no need to think about direct digital capture, my good ol' negs contain enough information either for a direct optical enlargement or for a top-class scan... at least if I have the budget to have it scanned and printed by this professional lab ;-)
Additional information ; there is a lab in Germany who has developed a proprietary laser-printing process for b&W on baryt paper. www.the-imagepress.de (http://www.the-imagepress.de)
The Elwood is a pretty gosh darn good machine;-)
The SOTA for inkjet printing now seems to be about what it was this time last year. The only interesting (to me) events were Roland's announcement of their d'Vinci system (12 channels, including a set of the Cone selenium Piezotones), and the inability of the mythical archival dye inkset to make it to market.
There was also the announcement of IJC/OPM from Bauhaus (another RIP to compete with Harrington's QTR which is pretty good shareware). And the announcement of Generations quad black pigments.
So really, the SOTA doesn't seem to have changed. Maybe next spring will bring change, but this spring has been a disappointment I think. Sigh....
I really like the new GE Reveal light bulbs. They have a lot more blue in them then the regular tungsten light bulbs. That makes my printing a little faster.
The latest in printing technology would be the new silver bromide papers, although a few Azo troglodytes still cling to silver chloride. Some people just won't accept new technologies...
I'm happy with my 2200 so I haven't paid a lot of attention but I vageuly recall reading that Epson has come out with a new printer, 800R maybe, something with R in it. That printer will only do 8x10 I think but people who pay more attentiion to this kind of thing than I do seem to think this new "R" technology, whatever it is, will soon find its way into a new line of larger printers to replace the 7600/9600. However, just because a newer technology comes out doesn't mean the 7600/9600s become obsolete. Despite the carping about digital stuff needing to be replaced every 2 years, plenty of people are still using the 3000 which must be close to ten years old now.
I second the vote on the 2200. It uses the same Ultrachrome ink as the 7600/9600 though in a more costly format of small ink tanks. For low volume work it is not bad. It handles up to 13" wide paper and I love the results on Epson's enhanced matte Super B paper or Red Rivers 13x38 paper.
> Does someone know if there is a replacement model in the air or if it is still time to buy one?
Take this with a grain of salt...but I've heard from a reliable source that Epson will have replacements for the 7600/9600/4000 series this summer.
A website that I found very informative: http://www.wide-format-printers.org/
Lots of background information and reports available. It is sponsored by a university and not vendors so they can be fairly candid.
Paul, has your friend tried using sheets rather than roll paper - even maybe cutting down from the roll? I've recently been using three 130 s and one had the wheel tracks with roll paper, but cutting the sheets by hand and feeding from the front slot cured the problem
Thanks for all the input. While some try to reinvent the wheel, others seem to keep on proved methods. In the last century I used to be a darkroom bat, but now I wanna be a day bird. Not much choice anyway for my darkroom has been confiscated to install a few computer servers there and my enlarger has been sitting idle in a pallox for some years now... Progress I guess. Sigh...
If a replacement for the 9600 should be announced now, it will probably take another 6 months before I can have a chance to smell the fragrance of freshly inked paper... And buying a 9600 just prior a twice as fast, maybe guaranteed "no clogging" and perhaps even bronzing free machine comes out would be from my part a clear sign of insanity. So I guess I will be waiting.
Julian, yes my friend has fed his 130 sheet by sheet, with the wheel marks on. But you know, he wants to use that Ilford High Gloss media that looks as deep as a sheet of Ilfochrome... Some photographers seem to never want to grow.
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